BY RYAN LEONG
Gorkys Hernandez made the catch of the year for the Giants in the first inning against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, his highlight reel defense was only a sidebar to another loss. In what has been a disappointing season to say the least, the Cardinals won 7-3 on Sunday to take three of four games over Labor Day Weekend. Cardinals left fielder Tommy Pham is having a spectacular season batting .309 with 19 homers and 61 RBI. He would have had another home run and two or three more runs batted in if not for the fleet footed glove work by Hernandez.
And despite the third home run of the campaign for Madison Bumgarner, it’s been a rough road back for the lefty both figuratively and literally following his off-field dirt bike crash in April that resulted in a left shoulder sprain and a two month stint on the disabled list. Orginally scheduled to start the series opener, Bumgarner was scratched because of flu-like symptoms and got the ball for the finale instead.
The second batter of the game, Pham blasted a ball to deep center near the 404 ft. marker. Hernandez had the presence of mind to race to the wall, jump and briefly get his glove above the 8 ft. high fence, spin around and come down with the ball to the amazement of everyone. Hernandez later made outstanding running catches in both right center and left-center and was a key talking point for Manager Bruce Bochy.
That’s one of the best defensive games I’ve seen one player have with all the plays that he made,” Bochy said. “He’s a gifted outfielder and whether it’s left field, center field, or right field he just does a great job and it’s exciting to watch those kind of plays.” On a televised close up, Bumgarner gave a look of astonishment with a ‘wow’ and several replays on the scoreboard resulted in an extended ovation for Hernandez as he came off the field in the middle of the inning.
Bumgarner retired the first eleven batters of the game very efficiently and looked to have no hit stuff. But the Cardinals have a very good lineup with four players at or near the 20-home run plateau, and rookie Paul DeJong ended any talk of a shutout let alone perfection with a home run to left-center followed by fellow rookie Jose Martinez booming blast halfway up the bleachers.
Harrison Bader hit his first career home run on Friday soon after being called up because rosters expanded on September 1. He joined the party again in the 6th, victimizing Bumgarner for his third gopher ball of the day. Bumgarner’s final line was six innings, five hits, five runs, two walks, five strikeouts and three home runs surrendered.
Despite the record breaking heat over the last three days in the Bay Area, Bumgarner had no excuses. “I don’t think whether it’s 30 degrees or 100 degrees, all the balls that got hit today at least off of me I don’t think it would have had effect on them at all,” Bumgarner said. “Obviously I’m disappointed with my part. I didn’t give us a chance to win today. I let that game get away from me. I’ve just got to find a way to do that and can’t let that happen.”
Aside from Bumgarner’s homer, Buster Posey had an RBI single and veteran Tim Federowicz hit his first homer since June of 2014 while with the Dodgers.
Only 23 games remain until this long and frustrating season is at last, over. The Giants are 54-85 and will have to win nine of those games to avoid the dubious number of 100 losses. The team goes back on the road for a six-game trip to Colorado and the South Side of Chicago to take on the White Sox. On Labor Day, Chris Stratton (2-3, 3.82) starts the series opener vs. Rockies’ Chad Bettis (0-2, 4.88)
Ryan Leong is a San Francisco native and covers all Bay Area sports teams as a correspondent for ESPN radio and wire services. He is a former sports anchor for KCBS and has reported on over 3,600 live games since 1998.